Spiritual but not religious

Our monthly feature seeks to offer open-minded, clarifying, and meaningful responses to readers’ questions about spirituality. Send your questions to The Resident.

Ref D. Taylor-Smith letter to the Editor,

The Resident May 30, 2019
Dear Reader – thanks for your interest and your several questions. In my introductory column, I mentioned that while I am a Christian minister, the column is intended to address questions regarding spirituality in general, rather than to serve as a vehicle for Christian evangelism. Christianity is my own path to God, and that of many; but it’s not the approach that everyone chooses, and people of other traditions or no tradition have both deep questions and deep responses.

Your own questions, dear Reader, clearly reflect a long commitment to Christianity and to the Church of England, and a passion for its mission and ministry. I too hold that commitment dearly. My own faith, since you ask, is expressed in the Nicene Creed. Anyone who wishes to know more about that can easily find me on a Sunday morning or, better still, ask me over a beer.

Reflecting once again on students I encountered in my work as a campus minister – many were aware that every major religion claims some level of exclusive access to the (capital “T”) Truth. Sadly, some found that an excuse to reject religion altogether. Others would try to combine several approaches, or found themselves struggling with practices that were not likely to come naturally to them. The American poet Edgar Lee Masters, in his Spoon River Anthology, gives voice to a Chinese immigrant to Spoon River, Illinois: “They got me into the Sunday-school/In Spoon River/And tried to get me to drop Confucius for Jesus./I could have been no worse off/If I had tried to get them to drop Jesus for Confucius.”

I would tell students who were serious about their spirituality that it’s worthwhile to select a path that feels natural, and be on it. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, compared Christianity to a house with many rooms, and his analogy can be applied to religion generally. “When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong, they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”

The Rev. Reid Hamilton
St Vincent’s Church